Upwrapping the Gift of Selflessness

Our holiday decor will be sparse this year. In fact, I am not sure if there really will be anything more than a tree. This year, our holiday season will be very different: less stuff, more experiences.

Last year we did four gifts: one thing you want, one thing you need, one thing to wear, one thing to read. This year, it's the same concept – but we are paying our blessings forward this year and are already getting a jump start. We have sold our house and have asked my parents to “scooch over” a bit to let us stay in my childhood bedroom for a couple of weeks while we decide our next move.

I want to travel and work with girls in developing countries. I want my daughter to witness firsthand the work our world has to do to even the playing field between the sexes. I want my son to understand why I do what I do, and why I stand so firmly in this mission. I need to open my own eyes and get even deeper in the discomfort of it all.

When I told my husband this was the next step in my mission, he simply looked at me and said, “Okay.” I need to make that response mean something. The blessings in my life are too many to count. It is time to pay it forward.

Passports are being ordered, research is being done and, while we wait, I have started to compile a list of local places to pay it forward during the holiday season – a slow start to get my family warmed up to the idea. A slow rise into the best, most uncomfortable work: Bingo and Bagels with the homeless at The Net in Fort Worth; serving meals to the homeless with Broadway Baptist Church; offering helping hands at Sanctified Hope for women coming out of prison in Weatherford. While not all of these places work exclusively with females, they do provide grace to those they serve – and Grace is my word and my work.

To me, grace is a type of deliverable faith. When someone gives me grace, my faith is renewed. And, when faith is renewed, it leaves behind fresh grit.

The holiday season is a great time to renew one’s grace, faith and grit. 2017 has been a year of grace for me. I have received more than my fair share and every time grace sat down to my left, grit appeared at my right. It has been one of the biggest blessings, and blessings are meant to be shared.

So, this year, my family is getting uncomfortable in the act of paying it forward. It will be more than buying an anonymous gift for a stranger. It will be pen-to-paper, eye-to-eye, hand-to-hand acknowledgment, appreciation and assistance – to thank those who have helped me, and to serve those who need grace, faith and a fresh supply of grit.

This new thing actually makes me excited for the holiday season. It gives me the feeling of being in total alignment with my work, my mission and my life. I feel new faith filling my spirit, new grit at my feet. An adventure awaits. This will not mirror holiday seasons of the past – the ones that I blindly move through as I clean the house, bake the cookies, write the letters to Santa. This season forces me to open my eyes and be purposeful in my movement. I will look into the eyes of strangers, search for a commonality with a woman who lives on the street, say a meaningful “thank you” to someone who has moved me, share a prayer and meal with a man who hasn’t eaten in a week, acknowledge the existence of a woman who served her time and who now is searching for forgiveness.

Giving to others is the gift I want to unwrap with my family this holiday. Somehow, I have a feeling that what we discover together will surpass the joy any other present could provide. Give it all to her, the stranger on the corner, needing someone to pay it forward and give them the gift of grace and grit.